I’ve not read any of Barbara Freethy’s fiction. Before today, I had no idea who she was – this despite her being a no 1. New York Times best selling author with more than 30 novels (where’ve I been?) to her name. But I like her already – a judgement based simply on some recent blog posts of hers in which she gives advice to other writers from a grounded and extremely modest perspective. That without downplaying her incredible success.
And it’s success by many measures:
* Numbers: 2.7 million ebooks sold since January 2011.
* Lifestyle: writing full-time about subject and characters that interest her
* Accolades: rave reviews, awards and editors’ picks
So, what’s her advice?
1. Write lots: “My best advice, having watched how my books have performed the last two years, is to write a lot of books! I’ve discovered that every new book raises the tide on sales for the previous ones.”
2. Don’t get sucked into the marketing and forget you’re a writer: “I honestly think writing the next book is a more important and a better use of your time than investing too many hours or too many dollars into promotion. I do still believe in Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest and other social media experiments but only on a limitied basis. Don’t spent all your time tweeting! Author newsletters are also great so that you can alert your readers to a new book.”
3. Envisage a longer term strategy: “I hope writers will think of self publishing (or traditional publishing) as a career. You’re not going to write just one book, you’re going to write many! And anyone who reads your first book and loves it is going to want to read the second. Plus, from a practical standpoint it is easier to promote and sell books when you can offer a sale price on the first book in a series or even just to another book you’ve written.”
4. Be professional. “Hiring the right team of editors, artists, marketing, whatever you need to put out a professional product, is very important. The readers can be harsh in their reviews. So you want to put out the best book you can. There are a lot of great freelancers available for anything you need. Take advantage of them!”
And why indie publishing rather than traditional (she’s already had dozens of books published by traditional publishers)?
“While I’ve enjoyed my experiences with traditional publishing, I’m currently pursuing my own path. I enjoy the freedom to write what I want and publish as frequently as I can, so that my readers will no longer have to wait a year in between books for the next installment in a series.”
And finally, let’s be honest. What are the downsides of self- or independent publishing?
“It is a tremendous amount of work. A self publisher has to wear many hats, not just writer, but editor, proofreader, technical formatter, cover designer, marketer, pricing expert … it’s exhausting. But it’s also very rewarding. There is a bigger piece of the pie for self published authors in terms of royalties, but there is a trade off in the amount of work the self publisher has to do.”
Barbara Freethy has an FAQ section on her website in which she gives more advice, as well as background on where her ideas come from, and resources on offer to book clubs (now there’s a great marketing idea we can learn from!)
Plus she elaborates more on how she achieved her success in this Kirkus Review.